Polluters forge new climate change pact; India taken in?
led by the us and Australia, six nations, including India, announced on July 28, 2005, a new pact on climate change, based on voluntary goals and measures. The "Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development (appcd)" focuses on the development of clean technologies, rather than the emissions reduction target approach of the Kyoto Protocol (kp) , the global treaty to fight climate change. The us and Australia have consistently opposed kp on economic grounds. The appcd club, with Japan, China and South Korea as its other members, accounts for almost 50 per cent of global greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions.
Experts warn appcd would complicate negotiations on kp's successor (required after 2012), to be held during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meet in Canada in November 2005; appcd's first meet is to be held in Adelaide, Australia around the same time.
appcd was on the anvil for the last one year. But it wasn't mentioned at the recent meeting of g8 nations, in which uk prime minister Tony Blair 'attempted' to get the us to warm up to kp. T he eu hasn't taken this kindly. "If the pact is simply technology and clean coal, it is no substitute for agreements like kp ...," bbc news online quoted Barbara Helfferich, the European Commission's environment spokesperson, as saying. The uk's department for environment, food and rural affairs gave a guarded response, saying the g8 had facilitated a new dialogue involving the g8, emerging economies and international institutions to create a post-Kyoto pathway.
It is also being speculated that appcd seeks to address the us concern about losing technological export opportunities by being outside kp. The new group might seek agreement with kp signatories to "allow its companies, which sell clean technologies, to gain carbon permits that could be traded with companies operating under kp," suggests Pamposh Bhat of German Technical Cooperation , New Delhi, an international organisation.
"The pact does not undermine kp. It will obviously benefit India through development and deployment of better technologies," reasons Pradipto Ghosh, secretary, Union ministry of environmnet and forests. But experts disagree. "In principle, the pact should help India bring down its ghg emissions. But this is yet to be seen...Cleaner technologies are really expensive...the us and Japan...should be instrumental in providing these to nations like India. But most technologies are owned by private companies, and hence the pact may not really help," explains N H Ravindranath, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore. But Partwardhan says if nothing else, appcd will help India bargain in post-2012 kp negotiations; India doesn't have an emissions cut target now but it may get one post-2012.
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